Questions and Answers with Hema Shah Creator of Lets Do CBs and the Better With Color Series of Coloring Books.
We see coloring books for adults everywhere. Where did it start ?
The popularity of coloring books has been growing like wildfire over the last three years. I am not sure whether it started in the Far East – Korea and Japan for example or whether it started in Europe. However, today there are several thousand titles in print, and some of the more popular titles have sold more than a million copies around the world and are still going strong. An adult coloring book sits at the top or close to the top of Amazon’s Bestseller list in several countries.
What makes them so popular ?
I think there are several reasons, and I have personally experienced a few of them myself
- There is something very satisfying about “finishing” a page. Psychologists will tell you it has something to do with the release of happy chemicals – we all know it as a good satisfied feeling.
- There is a certain rhythm to coloring. It calms and soothes in an almost Zenlike fashion. It is a great way to unwind from a difficult day.
- Working with colors take us back to a time when we were young and carefree. I have seen it work wonders on older people. Once they get over the “shyness” of coloring – they start talking about how they used to color and what they used to do. The joy on their faces as they talk is just amazing!
- In the US where they have started coloring as a social club activity, people find it’s a good way to spend time in the company of others. You are not just sitting there and talking. You are actually doing something and then sharing it with others. It doesn’t require any special skills.
- There are several articles where you can read more about what people think of Adult Coloring Books
Who is the target audience for your books ? Artists ? Children ?
Just about everyone. I am really looking to engage parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts – because I know they will enjoy it. And several of the people who have bought the book have told me how much their children enjoy coloring with them. Some young men are starting to make coloring dates and rituals with their children.
What kinds of colors do you recommend ?
In the early days when coloring was reserved for the artists, people tended to use color pencils. However, if you have books that are made of good quality paper or are where the pictures are on just one side, you could get great results and have a very pleasant time using regular markers or felt tip pens.
You say that coloring doesn’t require any special skills. So this won’t help people who are already good at art ?
People who are already very skilled at art have discovered the joy of drawing and coloring already. They likely don’t need the stimulus of a coloring book to get them started. However, they may well be able to show us a thing or two about how to turn these simple drawings into works of art. For example, they have these new watercolor pencils that a coloring fan from Japan shared with me. It looks and feels just like a pencil. And then you can take a fine wet brush and blend the colors to produce fabulous effects. I am sure highly skilled artists will take these to a whole new level.
You say that Coloring and Drawing has helped improve your focus in meetings. How is that ?
Compassion to the Rescue 10-12-15 Revised (2)This one is very personal and powerful and I am not sure I understand the scientific reason behind it. I just know it has been true for me, and a number of other “doodlers”. Focusing your primary attention to a small piece of paper gives a crazy, wandering mind like mine a place to park itself. It then allows me to focus peripheral attention on the discussion. If I wasn’t doing that, my mind would wander off onto other things that required more attention. I would miss the entire discussion.Compassion to the Rescue 10-12-15 Revised (2)
What are some of the adult coloring books available in India today ?
There is a very large selection of books available on Amazon India. as well as in bookstores.
- Entry Level – the kind that encourage you to experiment and get a feel for what you like. These are typically priced under Rs 200. You want to look for designs that are complex enough to keep the adult engaged, but not so complex that it overwhelms them. This is particularly important when buying for older adults who might be starting to have difficulties with their vision.
- High End or Elite – These are really for elite or expert colorists. For people who want to create works of art. They start at around Rs 600 but are more often in the Rs1000+ range. Johanna Barsford is a very popular artist who has created some incredibly beautiful books. Millie Marotta is another of my favorite artists. Moleskine and Carlo Stanga have collaborated to create “The Wandering City” which is an artwork in itself. These contain beautiful and intricate drawings that would be a delight for the seasoned colorist.
- Everything in between
Where do your books “Lets Do CBs” and “Better With Color” fall in this range ?
The first one Lets Do CBs which seems to be enjoying quite the run on Amazon.In right now is a gentle introduction to both coloring and drawing. It is designed to put Drawing and Coloring for Adults on the conversation table. It sells on Amazon for Rs 150 including shipping and delivery.
Your second book – Better With Color – Vol 1 also has a story. Why is that ?
I talked to several people that were coloring Lets Do CBs. From them I got the idea of making it smaller – so that they could carry it with them in a backpack or a purse. Everyone agreed that the paper should be thick so there is no bleed through especially when using markers. I also showed them some of the drawings I was planning to use. That is when one of my friends suggested that a story would tie it altogether. He also thought it would make it a little more interesting for people who were not very comfortable about coloring books.
What has been your experience with the story ?
The book has been on sale for just about a week. From my test group, it seems that the story is a big hit. Its not a very complex or intense story, but it keeps you going to the next and the next. They also like having a “life-attitude” to think about. It goes well with the overall coloring concept.
So what is next ?
- Personally, I think people will look for something a little more than just coloring. Certainly the opportunity to deliver that exists. Better With Color is designed as a series and I expect to roll out additional titles.
Thank you for the time and interest and I hope you enjoy coloring as much as our readers do!!